Ambleside will always hold a special place in my heart. There are so many beautiful places to see in The Lake District but this little town set by Lake Windermere will always bring back fond memories for me. It was where my husband went to university, we’d been dating for a couple of years before we went. As I went to university close to home every weekend I would drive my little car up the M6 to stay with him. I’m not sure we ever fully appreciated how beautiful it is in the Lake District and I’m not sure we properly took advantage of the time he lived there. Visiting again we were talking about all the things we would do if we lived there now. Funnily enough on the boat trip I was listening to a lady who lived in Ambleside talk about how her children had gone off to university in cities and when they came back for Christmas they asked her had it always been so beautiful. I think when it’s something you see every day you don’t always realise just how special it is to have that kind of view on your doorstep.
We’d been talking about taking the boys for a while, it’s somewhere we wanted to show them because it was so special to us. We decided to stay down by the lake and get the boat across to Wray Castle for the day. I’d heard so many good things about it and it sounded like such a haven for children. It’s under the National Trust now and it is chock full of hands on fun for kids, so many of the rooms have different activities such as dressing up, building with big foam blocks, reading and crafts. A whole set of rooms are dedicated to Peter Rabbit and we had to drag the boys out of them to go exploring outside.
From the front of the castle there are the most stunning views over the lake. The castle was actually built as a folly by a surgeon from Liverpool in the 1800’s intended to be his private residence. The gothic style does look a little out of place amongst the hills but I kind of like it and I can certainly see why he chose that spot to build on! In the woods at the back of the castle there is a an adventure playground dotted around the woods with rope swings, den building, tube slides, climbing frames – there were kids darting everywhere. You could easily spend an hour or two exploring the woods but we had a boat to catch so headed back to the jetty. The only downside with getting the boat there is that have to time it right and when it’s busy there is a good chance you will be waiting a while, we didn’t get on the first boat we queued up for so had to stay and wait for the next one. There are more sailings running in the holidays but something to keep in mind if you visit by boat.
Back in Ambleside we were pleased to see our favourite cafe was still there serving choc dip ice creams – they are every bit as good as they sound and we scoffed ours sat by the waters edge. The sun was still shining so we nipped to Grasmere to pick up some gingerbread. It might seem a little strange that we drove a few miles in the wrong direction before going home but this gingerbread is serious business and it will be like no other you have tried.
We had such a lovely day – our half term was busy but I specifically blocked out a day for us to do this and I’m so glad we did. It was just what we needed. I always feel as if we need these days to refuel us, to get through all the days when I don’t feel like we get any quality time, the fun we had on this one day is something that sticks with me for a long while after. We really didn’t want to drive home and the boys asked if we could stay for longer – next time we’ll try and stay for a few days and enjoy more of what The Lakes has to offer.